State of K1?
So I'm wondering what the opinion at large is of K1 these days. I haven't been following it for 2-3 years and just got back into watching it. Obviously it's still the most commonly used standard to measure an MMA fighter's striking (ex-so-and-so is a K1-level striker). However, since the rules in K1 have changed in recent years (not sure exactly when, actually) to limit fighters to 1 strike from the clinch and then break and to making throws illegal rather than legal but scoring no points, is anyone else disappointed?
Contrast the K1 WGP Hawaii from just about a week ago between Gokhan Saki and Randy Kim:
With 1996 K1 WGP overtime rounds between Andy Hug and Ernesto Hoost:
I like both fights a great deal, and obviously you have to take into account that Hoost and Hug are absolute legends, so their fight is going to be better anyways. But the thing that troubles me is that taking clinch weapons away from fighters is going to move K1 more and more toward a very homogenous and speedy style of kickboxing full of fighters that kick and punch very hard and don't do much else well (basically the WCL model).
Taking away clinch weapons means fighters that control their opponents and fight in close are left without some great tools, and the game boils down to who has the better strength, reach, cardio and speed. It leaves Muay Thai fighters out in the cold somewhat, and last I checked Muay Thai is supposed to be a part of K1. Ironically, I think the 1-strike clinch rule was part of Schilt-proofing K1, wheras in my opinion it just gives even more of an advantage to his punching reach, since controlling from in close is harder to do now.
I dunno, what do people think? Sorry if parts of this make no sense, I'm tired as ****.
In a way, the revised clinching rules are bringing K-1 back to its Seidokaikan roots. A bit of it's like you said regarding Schilt-proofing, but additionally, it's a means to "speed up" matches since a lot of audience members in Japan probably don't like watching clinching as much as they do "standing and banging" a la Kyokushin-style full contact knockdown matches (much like a good portion of American audience members don't like watching groundfighting in MMA matches). In Japan, a majority of full contact strikers still come from a Kyokushin background as opposed to say, a Muay Thai background. Even a lot of kickboxers in Japan nowadays have Kyokushin roots.
Muay Thai fighters have always been at a bit of a disadvantage in K-1 for several reasons, the revised clinching rules included. Additionally, the prohibition of elbows and the sheer size of most GP contenders have been hard on many Muay Thai fighters in K-1.
I think a major problem K-1 has nowadays is their attempts to pander to a broader audience base. In the early days before it was very mainstream, you could say it was a more "pure" standup league in a sense that the rules were more conducive to a well-rounded style of fighting. K-1's turning point was when they started bringing in guys like Bob Sapp to try to add appeal via spectacle instead of high caliber striking contests. K-1's other major problem is their biased judging, most evident in Bonjasky vs. Le Banner at the '07 Euro GP in Holland, and especially egregious in Masato vs. Buakaw 1. It's also very evident that K-1 judges bias their decisions toward fighters that came out of Seidokaikan, most egregiously Musashi.
But despite all these issues, I still think that K-1 is one of the world's premier standup leagues, and still remains very entertaining and somewhat educating.
As in several combat sports the trend as been to make it speedier and more crowd friendly... if you do muay thai and kickboxing, you're bound to know that the clinch work is one of the hardest tools to master and once you've got it, it can:
a) Get you out of tough spots
b) Help you put someone in tough spots
But I agree with the idea that the "bangers and headhunters" are the type of fighters that rise up to K1 stardom. Just look at Zambidis, Hadri, Drago, Karaev, etc for examples.
Heck, even Pramuk and Masato that are considered muay thai specialists are seen using clinch work and such!
Buakaw, IMO has been hurt severely by the restrictions on clinching and sweeps. His boxing isn't as refined as say, Sato's, particularly his defense due to the lack of head movement. His style is set up perfectly for using the clinch, obviously...kicks from outside, head stationary to avoid an easy grab for the clinch or knee, but without the ability to attack more than once while grabbing, his boxing gets picked apart more than it used to. Honestly, he just looks bored and frustrated in the ring not being able to plum clinch and knee, and I feel the same way watching it.
Maybe I'm from the Joe Rogan school of thought here, but if someone can grab, control, and knee/punch/throw you all fight, it should be up to you and not the rules to stop it. Stalemate clinches, fine, break them up. But the way to stop fighters like Schilt from dominating, and the way to make fights more exciting, is not by changing the rules and certainly not by changing them in a way that takes weapons away from fighters. Who knows, maybe a stronger fighter could win by controlling Schilt in the clinch? A high center of gravity means he'd be more susceptible to foot sweeps. And having differing combat styles is what makes fights more interesting, not by making everything a sped-up, samey headhunting contest.
Last edited by G-Off; 8/22/2008 5:36pm at .
Agreed. Buakaw has had lots of arsenal taken away due to K-1 rules. And agreed that a well-developed clinch should be rewarded and not prohibited. Imagine if Hari could have kneed all he wanted in the clinch when he fought Sefo: the match might have ended in half the time that it took!
Originally Posted by G-Off
Another problem I see may be a bit subjective, but it seems to me that K-1 (at least in the post-Changpuek Kiatsongrit days) kind of picks on Buakaw and other Thai fighters in somewhat subtle ways. For example, any fight that features a Thai fighter against a non-Japanese or non-"fan favorite" fighter often gets relegated to the highlight reel on the Fuji TV broadcasts. Also, Thai fighters frequently loose on decision if they don't knock down their opponents -- much like how Musashi instantly wins by decision if he doesn't get knocked down. Too bad.
Again I have to agree with you, it does seem the rules are changed partially to favor Japanese over Thai style fighters. However, I didn't put it in my post in case I diluted my point with allegations of racism. Those are far too easy to lob at the Japanese, and are already prevalent in the judging. Plus, the rules changes could just be Schilt proofing and speeding up the fights and nothing else...it could be coincidence that it works against Thai fighters. Again, for what it's worth I agree with you, but I think the rules changes have enough problems with them, racism or not.
Originally Posted by Minami no Kaze
If you want to see clinching and knees and all that watch muay thai and just accept that K-1 is a different kind of sport with a different kind of ruleset. Personally, I have no issues with the way K-1's rules are laid out. If I want to see a big full thai rules event with big names I watch the SLAMM events. There's also S-1 for the tournament format.
I love watching muay thai, but sometimes it's a nice change up to watch the faster pace of the 3x 3 minute round minimal clinch fights of K-1 max (I don't really like watching heavyweights so regular K-1 doesn't do it for me). The only thing I would like to see in MAX is new fighters invited so it's not just the same 10 or so guys doing all the big events.
I acept the different ruleset, mainly because it's not supposed to be pure Muay Thai, or pure Karate, or pure whatever, but the mix of several combat sports, but...as a mix, why remove a excelent weapon from a fighters arsenal?
About the MAX series, yes...they should change the fighters from time to time, but bare in mind that there are several K1 tryouts tournaments going on in Europe that I know of and that's basicly the way they recruit fighters for the main show...
The problem I have with it is that K1 is traditionally held up as a gold standard of striking skill. When you take away a big part of the fight game, you have to re-evaluate whether top K1 fighters really are the best, or just the best for their ruleset. I think it's great that (in the past) K1 was a venue where the best standup fighters were all competing against one another. Additionally, high level MT fights and tournaments are much harder to find than K1 fights.
I just don't want K1 to keep moving in the WCL direction, because the WCL is obviously already doing that. K1 was originally a place where clashes of standup style could happen, and I'm seeing it less and less. That's part of what makes fighting in general interesting to me, and I don't want it to disappear in K1.
Of course it's ALWAYS going to be who's the best at the rule set, no matter what the rules are. If you want to see who the best fighters are under the muay thai rule set, watch muay thai. If you want to see who the best K-1 rules fighters are, watch K-1.
Originally Posted by G-Off
I also find it hard to believe that there are more K-1 events than muay thai events. I'd be happy if there were more muay thai events broadcasted on Eurosport and ESPN, but I don't think making K-1 into a muay thai event is the way to do it.
The WCL just isn't as big as K-1 and certainly doesn't bring the same level of talent. Really I think K-1 made the rules what they are to make for the most fast paced, action packed kickboxing sport. They're going for entertaining the general fans and keeping a bigger fan base. I enjoy muay thai but the fights are in general much slower paced and unless you have two really skilled clinch fighters going at it, the clinch can get pretty boring/annoying. You obviously are going to have a lot of instances where the fighters are just getting tied up or stalling and it can be kind of tiresome, especially if you're not specifically interested in muay thai.
Originally Posted by G-Off